Friday 14 June 2024

Borderlands – Riding the Slipstream

Borderlands – Riding the Slipstream, edited by Paul Collins and illustrated by Anne Ryan (Ford Street Publishing) PB RRP $29.95 ISBN 9781922696403

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Borderlands – Riding the Slipstream is an anthology for readers aged 14+ years. It features over forty short stories and poems by some of Australia’s best-loved authors, including Ursula Dubosarsky, Bill Condon, Justin D’Arth, David Metzenthen, Dianne Wolfer, Juliet Marillier, Sophie Masson, and Sue Bursztynski.

Illustrated with black and white pictures by a quirky artist, this unique collection spans a kaleidoscope of genres and themes. Stories are listed under genres, from science fiction (writers such as John Larkin and Ian Irvine), fantasy (Shaun Tan, Pamela Freeman), horror (Sophie Masson and Trinity Ryan), and historical (Gary Crew and Pamela Rushby), and more. Poets include Sherryl Clark and Harry Laing), but it is Steven Herrick’s poignant poem, ‘A Tattoo’ about an elderly woman in a cream-coloured cardigan with a tattoo of a swallow in mid-flight on her forearm and underneath it the name DAVID, which I most enjoyed.

It is difficult to comment on all the stories in this hefty 560-page anthology, but here is a smattering of stories: In a spiritual acceptance about the nature of life, Susanne Gervay writes in ‘Faith and the Elephant God’ about two friends surfing, one of whom luckily escapes from an attack by a great white shark. Bill Condon’s touching story ‘A Dog of His Own’ is of a boy who takes his skittish dog for a run: the dog vanishes, and he feels he will never see it again. In the humour stories (including Elizabeth Fensham and Victor Kelleher), Barry Jonsberg’s amusing story, ‘Mr Postlewaite’s Class of Exceptionally Gifted Children’, is of a of a Year One teacher of ‘the brightest, the cleverest, the most amazing children in the entire city, possibly the whole country’: his students are filled with curious, difficult-to-answer questions which makes reading a story to them prolonged, an agony.

This is a book which rewards one who dips into stories and poems and enjoys the wide breadth of subject matter. Its compiler, Paul Collins, is to be commended for not only finding the many stories but by publishing it.

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